Tag Archives: Dr. Andrew Furey

Nepal Journal: There was once nothing.

Special guest blog by Dr. Nikhil Joshi, currently on the ground in Nepal for Team Broken Earth.

I’m hyperventilating.

I need At least 10 translators. They need excellent English skills, and then have to be able to speak at least 3 of Nepal’s 40 or so dialects. They have to be available, affordable and willing to work the long hours our team will.

But that’s not all. I need space. I need clinic space, enough for at least 8 nurses and physicians. Separate rooms to allow people to be examined without loss of their dignity- which is something critically important to preserve as these people have gone through so much.

What about lab equipment? A laboratory tech? Clean disposal of needles? Supplies of dressings, antibiotics, anti-tuberculosis medications? The list goes on and on.

I sit down. I feel defeated. The day hasn’t even earnestly begun and I’m overwhelmed with the sheer complexity that comes when trying to start an endeavor of this magnitude.

But I remind myself that even Team Broken Earth had a beginning. Few people think about that now. We often focus on the excellent work multiple teams from across Canada have done. But before there were two story buildings and Haitian patients walking on rebuilt femurs, there was people like Dr. Furey sleeping on the floor in some random house as patients slept in nearby tents.

There was once nothing. And now Team Broken Earth has launched a multitude of teams and initiatives and are regarded as ‘local’ partners rather than sporadic visitors. The teaching our organization has done in treating patients with trauma was so popular and timely that it captured the gratitude of Haiti’s press and President. From a humble tent on the ground, there is now a stable two story building where people receive aid, are taught and can come for help. There is a foundation laid in the city that people can see. A place that says our commitment to the country is not transient, is not dependent on media coverage, but grounded in a shared vision and hope. Consistent work and focus over a long time will yield results.

Foundations. That is what I need to lay. I need to talk to people, as many people as I possibly can. I need to find who needs help and what help they need. I need to accept that I can’t help everyone but realize I can help someone. I just need to find other local partners whose core needs match our core competencies. I just need to find people who need help and those who can help us.

My mother taught me when I was young that if a problem seems too big to break it down and down into manageable pieces.

So today I’m going to try and find us some translators.

Wish me luck
-Nikhil Joshi

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Nepal Journal: Have you ever felt called?

Special guest blog by Dr. Nikhil Joshi currently on the ground in Nepal for Team Broken Earth.

It was April 25th. I had just gotten off the phone with my friends in Nepal. It was hours before the earthquake. I laughed to myself and went to sleep. In the morning I saw that I had missed another phone call several hours after we talked. I didn’t think much of it.

But then I saw the headlines the next morning. I urgently called back. Nothing. Every phone number I had, every email address, every social media account- nothing. Every second went by without an answer was agony. And then something just flicked on and I realized something.

We’re all called. We’re all called to live compassionate lives where we care about others. That’s what makes us strive in our own lives for a better world. And as a result, I was going to Nepal because I just had to.

The next lesson happened when I told Dr. Barter about my plans to go to Nepal and do some clinical work. He was supportive, but shared some perspective that he had gained in Haiti. “Trying to make a difference in Nepal seeing patients for a month is like trying to knock down a wall by kicking it with a pair of flip flops”. The ridiculousness of the imagery was jarring and accurate.

Teamwork does make sense. Individual efforts while laudable become infinitely more powerful when amplified by the energy of likeminded people. That’s how it felt to be in the cafeteria with Drs Furey and Pridham. It took 3 minutes for me to make up my mind to be part of Team Broken Earth’s efforts in Nepal.

The goal is simple, to find out what the situation is on the ground in Kathmandu and the surrounding countryside. To see what people need, who is offering it to them, and ask is there a way Team Broken Earth can be of service to Nepal and its people in the long term.

Team Broken Earth’s core strengths lies in the fact that it is an organization comprised of hundreds of compassionate members with unique skills and stories. And those people all share something in common: a calling. An indescribable feeling that tells us that hope isn’t dead, that altruism is noble and that caring about the world isn’t an exercise in futility but an action befitting humanity.

And so I’m on this flight heading in to Kathmandu. I have no idea what I’ll find when I land. I don’t know what’s happened to my home away from home, I have no clue what the air feels like or what is the humanitarian situation on the ground. I just know that whenever I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of these problems, I tell myself that I’m not alone because many others also feel called. And we’ll find a way through this together.

-Dr. Nikhil Joshi

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Bangladesh, Day 3

Thanks to all who sent well wishes and thoughts on yesterday’s post. It really does mean a lot to me and re-energizes me in so many ways.

Today was better.

We visited Dhaka which has approximately 15 million people so it was a dense day, dense in every sense of the word.

We travelled throughout Dhaka to the older part of the city to visit a SAJIDA hospital. It was without a doubt one of the more interesting drives I have taken. There were more rickshaws and other forms of transportation than I could have dreamed existed.  On the way home, it took us 2-3 hours to travel a short distance through what I can only describe as an ocean of people, not waves, or groups, but constant people side by side, rickshaw by rickshaw for kilometres.

When we got to the hospital, we had several presentations and discussed with how Broken Earth and SAJIDA could collaborate.   They have the equipment and skills, but need more education and support. I think that is where we could help. They average 3-4 C-sections per day, but need more training in infant resuscitation, a course we could teach them. Then they can pass on that knowledge.

Following that we ran a busy clinic with the help of local doctors and nurses.  It was incredibly rewarding to work along side such remarkable people, to work with, and learn from them.

From the clinic into the operating room, where Dr. Rideout helped change the fate of child who may otherwise have gone through life with just three fingers.

We met one patient yesterday who was born with no legs and only two fingers on one hand.  He lives in rural Bangladesh, and despite his perceived disability, he is a successful farmer (farming the land himself), husband and father.   He was so thankful to see us, he demanded to visit with us tonight to sing us a song of appreciation.

In many ways this place is different than Haiti, but the human spirit, hope and determination to help those in need is a universal tenet, it just gets clouded sometimes.

Speaking of Haiti, I was extremely saddened to hear of the loss in Haiti yesterday. 18 people killed, celebrating Carnival, our thoughts and prayers are with our Haitian families and friends.

Best,

Andrew

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Day 3: the medical MacGyver, teaching & the possibility of clean water.

Last night was one of those surreal nights here. I’ve heard Haiti often referred to as the “land of a million orphans” but there are moments when the weight of that statement hits you.

Late last night, Mary O’Brien, one of our pediatric nurses and Dr. Melissa Angel ended up treating an abandoned orphan. This little one was obviously terrified but it didn’t take long for her to realize she was safe now. Mary and Melissa comforted her and helped arrange the social work this morning.

Take a moment and go hug your kids.

That’s how the day started.

Another busy day in pediatrics. Leigh Anne and Natalie diligently work away treating a variety of infectious diseases including meningitis. They haven’t stopped yet. It can be a real eye-opener, especially if it’s your first trip. Nurses Carla Pitman and Susan Morgan are in that boat. They’re driven by what they see. This place changes you. Humbles you as to how lucky we are in great north.

Still missing his luggage, Patrick Clarke went all MacGyver on us. He helped fix the ultrasound, the anesthesia machine and the downed CT scan… all with duct tape and some LEGOs. Kidding. Pat-of-all-trades.

Spent part of the afternoon helping to teach Haitian medical students with the local ortho surgeons. These guys will change lives here.

Tomorrow’s gonna be another big day. Thanks to our good friend Brendan Paddick, clean water engineers from Columbus Communications will be doing a site survey at the hospital for us. What a difference that’s gonna make. And tomorrow night the team’s been invited to a BBQ at the Canadian consulate. Nice little break there.

Night’s coming on. It’s tough to think about what lies out beyond the walls of the hospital. Sadly, most nights we have to turn people away because we’re way beyond capacity. You end up feeling a little guilty but that drives you to do that much more the next day.

G’night all.

– Andrew

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